Her name is Jamilet — Jamie. For seven months, she was our foster daughter. We adopted her April 28, and now, she is as much our daughter as Jacob and Liam are our sons, so her days of privacy are over — with a mom who’s a columnist, the best she can hope for in terms of privacy is that her brothers will do newsworthy things more often than she does. In yet another God-incidence (not coincidence) the court-decided adoption date of April 28 was Bill's mother's birthday, and she is also adopted.
Jamie’s older biological sisters named her, and while Bill and I already have a Jamie as a brother-in-law, a Jamie for a boy cousin and a Jamie for a good (male) friend of the family, we figure we can handle one more. Keeping her name is one way we can honor her family of origin. We hope it will also be one fewer question to answer when she’s older.
The question I hear the most since the adoption is, “Does it feel different?” I wish I could say it did. I wish that I had some dramatic story to tell about how, at the moment of adoption, everything changed. I never liked those questions on my birthday as a kid, either. “How does it feel to be eight?” an uncle would ask. It didn’t feel any different.
For me, growing to love Jamilet as a daughter began the first day I met her, as a foster daughter. Just as I didn’t know newborn Jacob and Liam, I didn’t know 1-year-old Jamilet. Yet, with all three, I felt an almost instant sense of responsibility and protectiveness. I’m not a fan of babysitting for other people’s children, and one of my fears before I had Jacob, and then again, before I became a foster parent for the first time, would be that I would feel about the child like I did about my friends’ children — fondly, but not passionately. But with both of my biological sons, my two foster daughters, and now, with adopted Jamie, the passion kicked in right away. For me, there was something about knowing I was a child’s mother — whether for a month or for a lifetime — that clicked on a sense of interest and purpose I do not feel for other children. With Jacob and Liam, with my other two foster daughters, and now with Jamie, the passage of time deepens the love. I can’t say I love Jacob more now, at 10, than I loved him when he was 2, but I can say I love him more fully now. Jacob is a more complex person now; there are more aspects to love, and as I discover those aspects, I can more fully know him as God knows him. The same is true for Liam and Jamie. As they grow into who they are, I love them more fully.
In Jamie’s adoption, the court recognized officially what Bill and I had long felt. She is a member of our family. There is a bond here that cannot be broken.
On adoption day, we went to the courthouse with both sets of our parents, Bill’s sister and her family, Jamie’s original foster mother, and my grandmother and uncle. We brought with us a bunch of pink helium balloons, and an enormous, 20-foot long, 3 foot wide pink banner, made by Liam, proclaiming, “Happy Adoption!” in big first grade block letters. He taped it to the front of the judge’s bench. I got so choked up on the first question (“Please state and spell your name”) that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue. Jamie raced around the courtroom in a pretty white dress and brand new patent leather shoes, excited that everyone she knew was all together in the same room. And after all the questions were answered and the forms were signed, the judge invited the boys up to the bench. They each got to pound the gavel and say, “This adoption is final.”
Finally final. We are so thankful.